Monday, April 08, 2013
A little over a month ago XC ski season was winding down and the rivers hadnít really thawed enough to kayak on safely. And socially Iíve been a bit of a hermit over the winter, not really getting out there and meeting new people.
So I forced myself to go to a local contra dance, as a way to burn some calories and socialize. There are videos from that dance on YouTube.
I had such a good time Iíve been doing them pretty much weekly, ever since. And I even MET SOMEONE there. We have so much in common enjoying dancing and the outdoors that we eventually decided to become An Item. So, win. It worked beyond my wildest expectations. LOL
A brief search on Sparkpeople.com for ďcontra danceĒ turns up no entries in the past year.
This is kind of surprising, given how friendly and inclusive the contra dancing community is - very much in line with the Sparkpeople.com ethic.
So perhaps an explanation is in order (because many may have never heard of it). Itís a form of social North American folk dancing similar to square dancing, but a bit more athletic, and done to live traditional music. Itís family-friendly and usually alcohol-free. You can get more information at this page. www.sbcds.org/contradance/whatis
There are some helpful tips here:
There are dances scattered all over North America, and other places too. You can probably find one nearby:
Or just go to Google and search for your state and the term ďcontra dance.Ē
Itís a fun way to spend an evening. Admission at the door is typically between $5 and $10, depending on the event. For some of them, if you bring snacks they will waive admission. You donít need to know what youíre doing, and you donít need to bring a partner. Just bring a pair of soft-soled indoor shoes to dance in (so you wonít scratch or mar the wood floor).
You typically pair up with a different partner for each dance (women can ask men as well as vice-versa) and end up dancing with many people, as you and your partner progress down the line (sort of like in the Virginia Reel).
It is a fairly low-level cardio activity (compared with something like spin class), but the calories add up - according to my heart rate monitor I burn about 500 calories at a typical 3-hour dance (including breaks). I try to stay away from the cookies at the snack table (I sometimes bring a protein bar or two), so itís pretty safe food-wise. Perhaps I will start bringing baby carrots and hummus or sliced bananas as a healthy alternative.
The moves arenít terribly complicated, and the events are always beginner-friendly, and people will show you what to do and help nudge you in the right direction if you get lost. Sometimes there are lessons half an hour before the scheduled dance begins, so arriving early can be helpful. If you can walk, you pretty much can contra dance. I have arthritis in one of my knees and as long as I wear flats (no heels) it seems to be OK.
And hereís an added benefit - I can get used to how my ďnewĒ body moves, and dress it up in fun twirly skirts I find at Salvation Army. As a tomboy most of the time, itís neat to have an excuse to channel my Inner Femme. And I get used to physical contact with others, in a friendly, non-threatening format.
As someone who likes traditional acoustic folk music, I also find it enjoyable to hear (and dance to) live Irish, English, and Old-Time tunes played on guitars, fiddles, and other instruments (one recent band had a didgeridoo).
So, if you havenít tried it before, I encourage you to give contra dancing (or any other form of folk dancing) a shot. You have nothing to lose, and you might find a new way to enjoy burning some calories with your friends and family. You might even make NEW friends.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
BREWMASTERBILL has been bugging me to do a 1 rep max test so I inserted one into my lifting schedule.
Since I usually lift at home alone in my basement, I generally do the 18 or 24 reps that the New Rules of Lifting for Women has prescribed.
I'm visiting my sister (HAVASUROSE) in AZ at the moment and this afternoon visited her local gym to get some real 1 rep max numbers, in a place where there were folks who could spot me, or at least call 911 if something went wrong. LOL
I used this form to estimate the numbers based on the last time I did any of these lifts in the NROL4W program: www.strstd.com
Here were the results:
1) Squat first.
6x 115lb as a warmup
175 (barely got up, so called it)
The original sheet estimated I had 158 in me. So, WIN.
According to strstd.com I'm intermediate at this.
2) Bench second
6x 75 lb as a warmup
95 (almost got it but the spotter "helped" so I tried again)
95 (almost, but just couldn't quite get it up)
90 (all me)
The original sheet estimated I had 103 in me. So, FAIL.
According to strstd.com I'm a novice at this.
3) Deadlift third
6x 135 as a warmup
190 (harder but doable)
195 (hard but doable)
I probably had 200 in me but the spotter said he thought I'd done too
many today to get a fair test.
The original sheet estimated I had 182 in me. So, WIN.
According to strstd.com I'm intermediate at this.
4) Overhead press fourth
6x 65lb as a warmup
80 (almost made it but weakness in repaired shoulder stopped me)
75 (all me)
The original sheet estimated I had 98 in me. So, FAIL.
According to strstd.com I'm a novice at this.
Not surprised at the results given a number of factors:
1) I used to carry around 250-350 lbs or so for most of the last 20
years so every time I sat down and got up was a squat. DL same
2) Repaired shoulder (rotator cuff surgery in 2011) is clearly still not at 100%
3) NROL4W just started having me do bench presses, and there have been overhead presses only once in the program so far.
These results make me think that the next time NROL rotates back
around to DL and Squat, I need to increase the weight by a LOT.
Also, I think it's pretty cool that I can now deadlift more weight than I've lost off my body.
Anyway, just thought you guys might think this was a fun idea too.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Enjoyed catching up with NIMNIX, WOLFKITTY, and GEE-KNEE this evening after hours.
Friday, December 21, 2012
So it's been a very good year.
I broke all previous records from 2010 and 2011 (the year I was on shoulder rehab) for number of rivers paddled (47), hours in my boats (366:37:03), days paddled (103), difficulty of rivers paddled (IV-V), calories burned on rivers (48,146) and calories burned boating overall (116,200).
I kayaked in NY, MA, WV, PA, Costa Rica, Canada, Argentina, and Chile.
I paddled the Bottom Moose (IV-V)
And I'm back from my trip to Argentina and Chile:
I got on some of the biggest white water I've ever seen (the Futalefu in Chile). For a glimpse of the kind of thing I saw, take a look at the White Water Grand Prix race run on that river a few days after I was on it.
I might not have been on the same sections shown. And I was not racing other boats; I just wanted to stay upright because I had ear infections and didn't want cold water in my ear canals. I also had a chest cold and lungs full of fluid so I was out of breath much of the time. And there was a fever and those night sweats. But it was all good, once I was on the water; I didn't notice those things. And I didn't flip, which taught me that I can stay upright if I really really want to. (Normally I don't care because I can always just roll up.)
But it was the same river and it was Very Big. A LOT of water. The current was so strong and fast we went 4.3 miles in 1.2 hours. And we were not hurrying. We spent a lot of time at the put in, warming up, practicing skills, taking photos between the rapids, checking the gauge, etc. That might tell you how much water was going through there. It was a pretty high level, "70," even for the Futa.
Here we are, between the rapids, all tossing our paddles in the air, for fun:
(There was no taking pictures while running the rapids, which you'll understand if you watch the Grand Prix videos.)
So now here I am, back at home, the cold mostly finished (just hacking the last stuff out of my lungs) and 10 lbs above where I like to be, partly due to the difficulty of eating right while ill in a foreign country - you get so drained you just eat what is put in front of you rather than asking for more veggies and protein and less carbs and sugar. And judgement is kind of impaired in those situations anyway.
And I haven't weight trained since I left, which is now a month ago. And my jeans are tight. And here are the holidays, with temptations all around me and all my normal exercise options disrupted.
This blog is for me. A kind of vision collage, if you will, of the things I am looking forward to.
I have some short term goals, like being in my +/- 3% range for the weigh in on Monday for the Mardi Gras Maintainer Challenge docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform
But I also have some other long term goals in mind. If I can stay in good condition (which requires eating right, doing strength training, conditioning, and working on flexibility) I may be able to step up my game this year.
Here are some of the rivers I have in my sights as possibilities, depending on how well I can train and improve:
1. The Rouge in Quebec (IV-IV+):
2. Great Falls in the DC area: (V+)
3. The Upper Yough in Pennsylvania: (IV-V)
4. The Upper Gauley in West Virginia: (IV-V)
5, This is in addition to more runs on the Bottom Moose (IV-V)
If I want to do this, I have my work cut out for me, because it is very ambitious.
That means, food ON POINT, including paying attention to macronutrients as well as overall calories, continued strength training (I'm at Stage Three for New Rules of Lifting for Women), continued conditioning (XC skiing, spin class and tae kardio), and continued flexibility (yoga).
And so, here I am, on the darkest day of the year, heading into my off season, and trying to keep the motivation alive for the spring.
My first step is to do an entire week with the calories under 2000 and to resume the strength training. I've got 3 days to go for the calories and plan to restart strength training tonight.
Don't wish me luck. Prod me, poke, me, bug me, annoy me, and otherwise get under my skin and help me remember why I'm doing this.
So I can boat better.
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